The power of the movie poster

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Movie posters, an art form of its own, I would say. You might not, that is fine. But do know that movie posters are perfect examples of great marketing. When something in the media world is around for more than 100 years, it is unthinkable that it is still used. But that is absolutely not the case with movie posters and that has a reason.

First, I would like to debunk a popular believe, that the usage of posters is something of the past. This is simply not true. Posters are not dead. Even though they are categorized under ‘old media’ they actually are far from that. Of course is having a focus on your online outings important, but know that print media has a better effect on people to remember your brand name. According to this research about the benefits of print media, the human brain has a special reaction to print that is contrasting with the reaction to digital media outings, which makes print unique. Using both, old and new, is highly recommend, but right now we are focussing on the old.

There are two reasons why I am enthusiastic about movie posters. First of all, I, myself, am a movie fanatic and I judge a movie by their posters on a daily basis. So, I have seen many of them. The second reason why I am talking about movie posters, is because of their development through the decades. In 1880, the Frenchman Jules Chéret, also known as the founding father of the modern poster, created an updated lithographic process that made the printing of posters so much easier. Since then, posters became a popular tool to use for advertisements. In 1895, the first ever movie poster was created by Auguste and Louis Lumière. These filmmakers made the poster to promote their 45-second-long piece of film. And because movie posters have been around for a really long time, you can perfectly see the changes that they have gone through.  

When it was old media


Halfway in the 1900s, it was impossible to ignore the popularity of cinema. Film making was a booming business and movies needed to be advertised. The problem is that movies move and in the 1950’s smartphones were not invented yet and a place like the current Times Square did not exist. To advertise a movie, posters were ideal. You can use it everywhere and on every surface. The beauty of a poster is that it is hard to ignore, grabs the attention and can make a simple message clear.

So, before the internet took off, movie posters were made for the soul purpose of name recognition. These posters were simple, big letters that reveal the movie title with large pictures of the main characters. A textbook example of this, is the movie poster for Jurassic Park. Someone could see the poster and would immediately know what it was trying to tell. In this time, posters were mostly used on billboards or bus stops. No one had the time to take a really good look.

How it became new media


But like it said, this was before the Internet took off. Currently, we live in a completely different society then 20 years ago or even 5 years ago. Poster marketing in the film business is still immensely popular but poster design did completely change to fit this modern era. The change movie poster designers had to make, was that a poster needed to work on a gigantic billboard but also on a tiny telephone screen.

In this digital era, very little of our daily doings are happing without a phone and movie poster business took advantage of that. You might have noticed that most posters have a lot more attention to detail. This could be done by simply putting a lot of things on one poster, as is done with the poster of Avengers: Infinity war and Avengers: Endgame. Attention to detail can also be done by using easter eggs, as was done in the poster of The Dark Knight Rises. Besides the fact that using a lot of detail is incredibly fun to do as a designer, it also serves another purpose. It is great for extra engagement with your audience. People have more time to look at a poster because they are literary available at any moment. The audience has more time to observe every possible detail. After that, a lot of people also share them on social media. The better the design and attention to detail, the bigger the change is more people will remember it and, more importantly, share it.

Movie posters have gone through a lot. They experienced many hypes and trends which ensured that they are still popular to this day. They can tell a story on just one page, drive people mad with theories or become a piece of iconic art. And that is the power of a movie poster.

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